The Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) helps Member States take action in response to a health threat caused by food or feed.
The allergen increase can be partly attributed to product recalls in US and Canada of ground cumin containing products, due to contamination with peanut and almond protein.
Incidents in the US and in Canada could not be connected to any products on the market in Europe but they did trigger notifications indicating there were issues in Europe relating to allergens in spices, according to the 2015 report.
In terms of hazard category, those for heavy metals (208), parasitic infestation (11) and industrial contaminants (42) decreased from (275, 18 and 64).
Notification for pathogenic micro-organisms (745) was by far the leading hazard category with pesticide residues (405) in third after mycotoxins.
Notifications by country of origin
China again topped the notifications by country of origin with 388, although this was down from 417 in 2014. Reasons included aflatoxins in nuts, nut products and seeds and migration of chromium in food contact materials.
Turkey was second with 282, up from 200, and India was third with 276 up from 199.
Aflatoxins in nuts, nut product and seeds and fruit and vegetables were an issue from Turkey. Salmonella in the same products was cited often from India.
In 2015, a total of 3,049 original notifications were transmitted through the RASFF.
Of which 775 were classified as alert, 392 as information for follow-up, 495 as information for attention and 1,387 as border rejection notification.
These original notifications gave rise to 6,204 follow-up notifications, representing an average of two follow-ups per original notification. For alert notifications this average rises to 5.2 follow-ups per original notification.
There was a 3.4% decrease in original notifications compared to 2014 but a 14.6% increase in follow-up notifications, resulting in an overall increase of 5%.
For original notifications, the focus is shifting to alert notifications. The number of border rejections, declining since 2011, has slightly increased in 2015. For follow-ups the increase for alerts is significant for the second year in a row.
Notifications by product category
Fruit and vegetables topped notifications by product category (634) which was up slightly from the year before (620).
Nut products and seeds was second with 477, fish products had 297.
In 2015 there were four RASFF notifications and four news on incidents in third countries.
A notifying country reports on the risks it has identified, the product and its traceability and the measures it has taken.
An ‘alert notification’ or ‘alert’ is sent when a food, feed or food contact material presenting a serious risk is on the market and when rapid action is or might be required in another country than the notifying one.
Alerts are triggered by the member of the network that detects the problem and has initiated measures, such as withdrawal or recall.
Italy was the top notifying country with 512, followed by the UK with 337, Germany with 276, Netherlands with 259 and France with 236.